Monthly Archives: April 2016

Shakespeare Celebrations: 400

Wow! What an incredible weekend. Firstly, my apologies for not being around, but I’m sure you’ll forgive me once I’ve told you all about this magical weekend celebrating the greatest playwright of all time.

William Shakespeare: legend. April 23rd 1564 – April 23rd 1616. 400 years since he died. Aged 52. What an inspirational legacy that has been left behind…

So, being a Stratfordian (how my students cringe when I say that!) I had to take part in the celebrations, and naturally Stratford upon Avon threw an incredible event. There was the parade, performances, floral tributes, fireworks and even a visit from royalty! The worlds media was there as was I. I feel honoured to have been a tiny part of it.

There were 10,000 of these…and everyone who littered the streets wore them. 


The parade was, dare I say it, a roller coaster of emotions. It began with the funeral bells from Holy Trinity Church and the marching of a mini coffin and floral tribute. We were to throw rosemary as it passed. The streets smelt wonderful after this. 


We had visitors from all around the world come to pay their respects. The sun was shining and the flags were waving proudly. 


There were some beautiful national dress… 


And an incredible jazz band from New Orleans… 


King Edward Grammar School opened its doors to the Guild Hall and Shakespeare’s classroom. It’s really beautiful. The picture of Shakespeare hangs proud. Such humble beginnings. 




And from past history, to making new history. Shakespeare is still inspiring millions today. A project for the children outside Shakespeare’s birthplace. 


The parade marched to Holy Trinty Church where all the flowers from the parade were laid at Shakespeare’s grave. I honestly don’t have the words to describe the smell. It was heavenly and so fittingly decorated. 


Finally, the RSC did a live production which was streamed all around the world, with a star studded cast. There was only one way to finish this off: fireworks. 


So, thank you Stratford for being so beautiful. I’m so proud that this is my heritage. Thank you Shakespeare for transforming the lives of millions by the power of the written and performed word. How staggering it is that it makes as much sense today as I did back then. But, most of all, thank goodness that things like this are still celebrated. Here’s to the next 400!


To close, one of my favourite Shakespeare quotes:

“This above all: to thine own self be true,

And it must follow, as the night the day,

Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

Hamlet.


Big love x

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The Bath & Body Works Tag

  

Hey guys! 

Hope you’re all good on this Monday evening. I had a little window of spare time, so I decided I would catch up on some tags. Thanks for the lovely Arec @ Rainy Thursday’s and the lovely Breeanna Pierce for thinking of me for this tag. 

I must admit this looks really interesting, and I’ve tried to think of different books this time too. Hope you enjoy darlings! 


Pure Paradise – a book that was pure perfection. 

For me, a book that has recently been pure perfection was Vanessa Greene’s The Seafront Tea Rooms. When life gets a little busy, what you need is a lovely, quick read. Or I do at least. This ticked that box for me. 

  

Sweet Pea – a romance/contemporary you really enjoyed. 

Definitely not contemporary and more of a tragedy, but the romance within Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is the love to conquer all loves. It’s the love we all wish for, minus the outcome of course. Also, this is my nudge to the celebrations of this upcoming weekend. 

  

Fresh Strawberries – a book you really enjoyed that came out this year. 

Well, I’m cheating for this one because I don’t have an answer. BUT, I know this is being released in July and I know it will be awesome. BOOM. 

  

Warm Vanilla – a character and/or book that made you all warm inside. 

Oh, I absolutely adore The Hungry Caterpillar. It reminds me of my childhood: the colours, the food, the magic. It’s one of the first books I remember reading with my parents. I still love it and I still talk about it. Ah, memories. 

  

Paris Amour – a couple you majorly ship together. 

I’m tapping into my love of classics here: Cathy and Heathcliff. Shame he’s a baddie. 

  

Dancing Waters – a book that takes place on the beach/the perfect beach read. 

Oh summers past. I love decriptions of summers in the country. It reminds me of my lovely grandparents house. These are definitely present in Cider With Rosie. It’s the type of description that takes you with it, you have absolutely zero choice. Magical. 

  

I Heart Cake (&Books) – your favourite book. 

There are many answers to this and for followers who have been around for a while, you know that my natural response is Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. However, I’m being good and thinking of different answers. Another favourite author of mine is Jean Rhys. She absolutely breaks my heart. Sadly, she didn’t get famous until after she died so she never knew how talented she was. 

  
Winter Candy – a book set during Christmas or winter. 

I have to read Dickens in the winter. It’s something about the descriptions of the fires and cooking I think. My natural initial reaction to this has to be his Christmas stories. Bliss. 

  

Beautiful Day – a book with an unusual/interesting/appealing setting. 

An appealing setting for me is somewhere I can imagine. I LOVE Mary Elizabeth Lucy’s memoirs, based at Charlecote Park. I love this house and the grounds are beautiful. I’ve posted some of my photos from here in the past on my blog. I just adore it. Despite being from the Victorian period, The stories live and breathe on because we can see their house as it was. 

  
Dazzling Diamonds – a beautiful front cover. 

I’m a sucker for a beautiful cover and this one is amazing. 
  

Now, because I’m so slow at taking part in this, I think everyone has already done it. Therefore, I’m not tagging anyone specifically. However, if you’ve missed it and fancy taking part, go for it! Let me know how you get on and what you think. 

Big love everyone! Have a great week. X

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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

  
Hey guys. 

Hope you’re all well on this wet and dismal Thursday evening. I wanted to use this rare opportunity of a free evening to write a review of this book, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, for you all. This book is like a hug, honestly. I absolutely loved it! I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. 

On with the review…

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is set in January 1946. It was a time where London was merely rubble due to the Second World War. The novels main protagonist, Juliet Ashton, is a known writer on the search for her next literary piece. During the war, Juliet wrote a column under the pseudonym, Izzy Bickerstaff. As the war ended, her publisher and close friend, Sidney Stark, published her columns. They were viewed as rather humorous and the made a complete book called Izzy Bickerstaff Goes To War. The novel opens with Juliet searching for a more serious topic that she can write about under her own true identify. 

“I no longer want to write this book- my head and my heart just aren’t in it. Dear as Izzy Bickerstaff is-and was- to me, I don’t want to write anything else under that name. I don’t want to be considered a light-hearted journalist anymore. I do acknowledge that making readers laugh- or at least chuckle- during the war was no mean feat, but I don’t want to do it anymore. I can’t seem to dredge up any sense of proportion or balance these days, and God knows one cannot write humor without them.”

The novel is structured using a series of letters and correspondences. Rather unexpectedly, Juliet receives a letter from a man called Dawsey Adams from Guernsey. By pure chance, Dawsey noticed Juliet’s name inside a book by Charles Lamb. These books are so rare on the island of Guernsey that he enquires for more, particularly for the island’s book club, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. 

“I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” 

Dawsey’s first letter is the catalyst for many others off the island. The central person that featured in the correspondence is Elizabeth McKenna, a young woman who had sadly already died by the time Juliet begins her letters with the people of Guernsey. During the occupation of Guernsey by the Germans, Elizabeth had been deported to a concentration camp, where she was later killed. 

“Life goes on.” What nonsense, I thought, of course it doesn’t. It’s death that goes on.” 

Before she was taken away, she had fallen in love with Christian, a German soldier, and given birth to their daughter, Kit. Kit was raised for the first four years of her life by Dawsey and the Guernsey islanders. Via her correspondences, Juliet is drawn into a world of differing characters and members of the literary society. She learns that the society bring together a whole host of people who found peace in literature during a dangerous and tragic time. 

Through the letters, Juliet and the reader, learns the origins of the society. When the German soldiers controlled Guernsey during the occupation of the Channel Islands from 1940-1945, the islanders were living under strict rules and people were severely oppressed. Eating their own livestock was also prohibited. However, several islanders concocted a clever scheme that could save a pig for themselves. When one farmer’s pig died, several farmers would pass around the carcass, each reporting the death of their own pig to the German officials. Farmers could then hide away one of their pigs to a laughter in secrecy and eat with their friends and neighbours. 

“None of us had any experience with literary societies, so we made our own rules: we took turns speaking about he books we’d read …We read books, talked books, argued over books and became dearer and dearer to one another. Other Islanders asked to join us, and our evenings together became bright, lively times-we could almost forget, now and then, the darkness outside. We still meet every fortnight”

One evening, the islander’s feasted on one such secret pig. German soldiers discovered the gathering and immediately demanded to know why they had broken the curfew. Elizabeth McKenna saved them all by telling the story of how their meeting was the first gathering of a new livery club on the island. Thankfully, the story was bought. 

Thus, the society was born. They met every fortnight and grew close together: the own little community. Most members knew nothing of literature but discovered an author or genre that appealed to their own personalities. Literature help boost morale and spirits. They read all kinds of literary texts from Charles Lamb to the Brontë sisters. The society enabled the island to find solace and forget, briefly, the horrors of war. 

“We clung to books and to our friends; they reminded us that we had another part to us.” 

As letters and time passes, Juliet learns more and yearns to meet her new friends in Guernsey. It also gives her opportunity to get away from the overwhelming attention from a male suitor. Upon her arrival, relationships are strengthened and life in London doesn’t appear to be so appealing anymore. Most significantly, she grows increasing close to Kit and eventually applies for her adoption. 

Juliet also falls in love with Dawsey and proposes marriage to him. Juliet’s time on the island has changed everything. She even begs Sidney to visit her and see for himself the charm and friendliness of these people. Finally, with Sidney’s help, she decides her next book would be: the life of Elizabeth McKenna. Her life was central to life on this island. What is rather touching, Elizabeth helps Juliet find herself too. Julie’s life decisions provide the self-fulfilment and happiness she had been longing for. 

“I don’t want to be married just to be married. I can’t think of anything lonelier than spending the rest of my life with someone I can’t talk to, or worse, someone I can’t be silent with.” 

As the novel closes, Juliet is dedicated to writing her new book to honour the life of Elizabeth. After all, she is the heart and soul of this group. 

“If I could have anything I wanted, I would choose story without end, and it seems I have lots of company in that.”

This book is pure magic. I laughed and felt the pain of the islander’s when they lost Elizabeth. It’s heartwarming and I couldn’t recommend it highly enough. The use of letters as the narrative structure emphasises the emotions and the secrecy of this society. I was sad this novel came to a close. 

Big love x

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New William Shakespeare Statue: Stratford upon Avon

Hey guys! 

So, it was the last day of my holiday today and I had a lovely lunch with my Momma at the RSC Rooftop Restaurant. Whilst we were there, I made her come and see the new Shakespeare statue. He is a real beauty. With the sun shining (hence the squinting expression!) in front of him, it was the perfect excuse for a photo moment! 

 

The position outside the theatre on Bancroft Gardens is perfect. He is welcoming all to our wonderful town.

He was created by Lawrence Holofcener who wanted to make this to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the death of Shakespeare later this month. He was given to the town to mark this historical event. There’s a number of events coming up for the anniversary, including a visit from Prince Charles. 

The statue was unveiled on February 23rd, the 90th birthday of Holofcener. What emotional and wonderful timing. Also, what a really thoughtful gift. Stratfordians love him! 

If you get chance, make a visit. He’s waiting for you all…

Big love x

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The Book SacrificeTag 

Hey guys! 

So, as you all know I’m pretty terrible at keeping up with book tags. I do have a little notebook where I’ve written them all down, so stick with me and they’ll get done eventually! Today’s tag looks great fun. Thanks to the lovely wonderful Orang utan Librarian for thinking of me to take part. 

Here goes! (Warning – may cause controversy. I genuinely don’t want to offend anyone!) 


1. An Over-Hyped Book:- 

Situation: You’re in a store when the zombie apocalypse hits. The military informs everyone that over-hyped books are the zombies only weakness. What book that everyone else says is amazing but you disliked do you start chucking at the zombies?

I’m not so good on the whole hype thing. I tend to shy away from it. I got lucky with Harry Potter because I was riding that wave just as it was getting huge or I dread to think what could have happened! 

Nevertheless, a book that was overhyped for me has to be Twilight. I was 17 when this was first published and I was never really into that genre anyway, but it seemed (or felt like) it was all I saw, heard about and all I knew about for ages. The sad thing: I didn’t want to know. At 17 I would have been studying for my A Levels, reading fiction that changed my life. This did not rock my boat at all. And then the films came out… *sigh* 

  

2. A Sequel:- 

Situation: torrential downpour. What sequel are you willing to use as an umbrella to protect yourself?

Sequels are always a risky business, especially when you love the first so much. Personally, a dodgy sequel for me was The Marvellous Land of Oz. Now, what is wrong with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz? Dorothy has gone (no chequered dress – outrageous) and we have Tip as a main character, who wants to overthrow the Scarecrow who has ruled over the Emerald City post The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Excuse me?! 

What else could they possibly need to do in the second novel that they failed to achieve in the first. I know – drama that doesn’t really matter. 

Also, there was a movie made of this too, where controversially, Dorothy is returned, the plot completely altered and they change the colour of her shoes from red to silver. Why?

  

3. A Classic:-

Situation: You’re in English class and your professor raves about a Classic that “transcends time”. If given the opportunity to travel back in time, which Classic would you try to stop from ever publishing?

This is quite hard for me because I love my classics and I would happily travel back in time to experience them first hand, especially Victorian times. However, I do really dislike Ulysses. What is the point?! It’s so big and nothing really happens. I remember a description of a toilet scene. Marvellous. 

I’m well aware that people LOVE this book. It’s modernist fiction in its prime. It’s just not for me. 

  

4. A Least Favourite Book:- 

Situation: apparently global warming = suddenly frozen wasteland. Your only hope of survival for warmth is to burn a book. Which book will you not regret lighting?

I find it really sad that we all have books we just don’t like. But, it’s like everything. For me, my least favourite book of all time (so far because I’ve not read everything and I’m ignoring the obvious 50 Shades of absolute s***!) has to be Paper Towns. The suicide in the park, the selfish Margo and the lovesick follower, Quentin. Not for me today thanks. NB: I didn’t even bother with the film for this one. 

Again, I realise that people loved this. It’s clearly advertised as a New York Times best seller. I’m glad someone enjoyed it. 

  

Now, this was quite difficult for me because I’m a positive person and I don’t like to rock the boat. However, I feel better for having a bit of a book based rant. So, I’m nominating some of my favourite, lovely bloggers to take part in the sacrificing so I don’t feel bad on my own! 

Claire @ Art and Soul

Amy @ Curiouser and Curiouser

Liam @ Liam’s Library

Kim @ By Hook or By Book

Nicola @ Rust and Stardust

Calliope @ The Book Goddess

Lauren @ Driftinglexi

The Lonely Author Blog

Melanie Noell Bernard

Ashley @ Dreaming Through Literature

As ever – use/ignore as you see fit. 

Big love! X 

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